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J Neurosci. 2011 Sep 14;31(37):13088-96. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6322-10.2011.

Hijacking cortical motor output with repetitive microstimulation.

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Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas 66160, USA.


High-frequency repetitive microstimulation has been widely used as a method of investigating the properties of cortical motor output. Despite its widespread use, few studies have investigated how activity evoked by high-frequency stimulation may interact with the existing activity of cortical cells resulting from natural synaptic inputs. A reasonable assumption might be that the stimulus-evoked activity sums with the existing natural activity. However, another possibility is that the stimulus-evoked firing of cortical neurons might block and replace the natural activity. We refer to this latter possibility as "neural hijacking." Evidence from analysis of EMG activity evoked by repetitive microstimulation (200 Hz, 500 ms) of primary motor cortex in two rhesus monkeys during performance of a reach-to-grasp task strongly supports the neural hijacking hypothesis.

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